What’s the point behind the steering wheel in Toyota’s newest self-driving prototype?

The American Toyota subsidiary Toyota Research Institute announced their newest self-driving prototype car on September 27.

Toyota Research Institute premiered their first self-driving prototype car, using the previous generation Lexus LS as a base, earlier this year in March. After that, the institute used data it gathered from test drives of the vehicle to further their efforts into the field of self-driving vehicles.

This newest self-driving prototype car enjoys the benefits of the company’s research into deep learning and computer recognition models. Using systems that are much faster, more effective, and accurate than previous iterations, the vehicle detects obstacles and road conditions around it, correctly determining its surroundings, and predicts the safest routes for the vehicle to take. Furthermore, by collecting data related to road signs and lines on the road, the car also works to produce map data, imperative to furthering self-driving car technology.

The car also uses the improved recognition distance and image processing capabilities of the new model Lidar, produced by the American company Luminar, which allows it to more precisely grasp the positioning of three dimensional objects. Able to adjust its field of vision, it is also able to focus that field of vision on the most imperative direction.

Moreover, the passenger seat of the vehicle now has a drive by wire, steering wheel, and acceleration and brake pedals included. The company plans to further research into what aspects of human as well as automated driving are safer and more effective when driving in tricky environments. This should also help with development of mechanical learning algorithms that learn from human drivers as well as teach them.

The biggest feature of the prototype is that it has two different automated driving modes. The company plans to keep moving along with its tests into high level safety driver support through automated driving tech as well as tests into stand alone automated driving with this new prototype.

Written by Minoru Moriwaki
(Translated by Bryce Clarke)